I’ve already written about how to deal with rattlesnake encounters. The folks from the Maricopa County Parks Department gave me some great advice.
Turns out, not everyone agrees with it.
I recently encountered a rattler curled in the shade of a creosote bush right alongside the Desert Classic Trail at South Mountain in Phoenix. Some other riders had stopped to warn people.
They were just warning people. Which is great for the amount of time they’re there.
What about the people who walk or ride by after everyone else is gone? Chances are, they’ll never see the rattler. And they might take that wrong step that results in one nasty, painful, dangerous, potentially life-threatening wound.
That was my logic behind tossing a few stones near the rattler, as I’d learned to do from the ranger I interviewed for my last piece about rattlers. The stones got progressively larger, but I made sure not to actually hit the snake. I was hoping to cause enough vibration to make it slither away. The snake wasn’t having any of it – too comfortable in the shade, I guess. And there were no sticks long or sturdy enough that I’d use to herd it.
“That’s stupid. You’re just going to piss him off,” one other rider said, anthropomorphizing far too much. Anger doesn’t make a snake bite – feeling threatened makes a snake bite.
I told him that this is the advice I got from people who know what they’re doing. He rode away muttering about how much he knew about snakes. Probably not as much as a county ranger, I’d guess.
I tried my best to move the snake, but couldn’t. It didn’t even rattle or hiss. And I wasn’t willing to get any closer. Nor was I willing to kill it … it was just being a snake.
I felt we were at least responsible for trying to make the trail safer.
What do you think?